Welcome back to The FAAB Review, the series that looks at FAAB bidding in expert leagues to help you, the Baseball Prospectus reader, with your fantasy baseball bidding needs. Tim McCullough covers the FAAB bidding in the Tout Wars Mixed Draft League, while I cover LABR Mixed and both NL-only and AL-only leagues. LABR uses a $100 FAAB budget with one-dollar minimum bids, while Tout Wars uses a $1,000 minimum budget with zero-dollar minimum bids.
Tout Wars’ free-agent deadline is 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, while LABR’s deadline is Sunday at midnight ET.
Tyler Rogers $17
Adam Wainwright $11 (Other Bids: $5) (CIN)
Something didn’t occur to me during St. Louis’ long hiatus: While the hitters on the Cardinals can make up for lost time in a hurry, the same isn’t possible for their rotation. Pitchers still need regular rest, which means that their front five lost at least three starts apiece. Brutal. Wainwright has posted strong fantasy stats despite peripherals that say he’s nothing more than a consistent, reliable fourth or fifth starter. Wainwright is a borderline option in deep mixed for his matchup against the Reds. I’d leave him on the bench or the free-agent pool.
Sergio Romo $6 (Other Bids: $2)
Romo isn’t the closer in Minnesota, but the Twins have been using Taylor Rogers judiciously, giving Romo multiple opportunities to get saves. In a 162-game slate, it’s unlikely that this job split would last, but in a 60-game season with extended playoffs, it wouldn’t surprise me if Romo sees more opportunities in the ninth. I don’t expect the strikeout rate to stay this high. Otherwise, Romo is a reliable option who should post solid ratios and gobble up three-to-five more saves.
Alec Bohm $5 (Other Bids: $5)
I would have guessed that we would’ve seen more spirited bidding for the touted Phillies prospect. Bohm’s minor-league numbers weren’t spectacular, but he was a highly regarded minor-league hitter who is expected to continue to develop in the majors. As my colleague Jon Hegglund pointed out, Bohm isn’t as lauded as Dylan Carlson or Jo Adell, but much of this is due to Bohm’s subpar defensive skills, which don’t matter to us. If I needed a corner in a 15-team mixed league, I would bid far more aggressively than $5. Bohm will get an honest shot to keep the job at the hot corner in Philadelphia.
Austin Slater $5 (Other Bids: $3, $1)
Slater is the National League’s answer to Dylan Moore: a player who was never highly regarded as a prospect but who is suddenly a power-speed force. Although no one expects Slater to keep this up, the stolen bases are legitimate, and the Giants outfield offers plenty of margin for error. Slater is a must-have if you need steals. Even if the rest of his stats fall down to earth, a .260-average hitter with moderate pop is tolerable because of those swipes.
Wilmer Flores $4 (Other Bids: $3)
Flores is the sort of player whose bat was always good enough for the majors but whose defense was questionable, so it’s nice to see him DH nearly full time for the Giants. Flores has shown some decent pop but is more of an average hitter with 15- to 20-home-run power. It will be nice to see what Flores can do over the course of a full season, such as it is.
Martin Maldonado $4 (Other Bids: $1)
Maldonado is a defense-first, bat-second catcher, but he has been incredibly productive, with 15 RBI in 64 plate appearances. You don’t need me to tell you that he can’t maintain this torrid pace, especially with a .235 AVG and a 31 percent strikeout rate to go along with that production. The Astros’ strong lineup somewhat helps the RBI opportunities, but it shouldn’t help Maldonado this much.
Brandon Bielak $4 (Other Bids: $3) (COL, @SD)
In his first two starts, Bielak has looked like a savvy pitcher who needs plenty of groundballs and weak contact to survive due to the lack of a big strikeout pitch. This combination makes me nervous with a Colorado start on tap, but if you don’t have the ability to uncouple this pair of starts, I’d still be OK with rolling the dice and using Bielak in mixed for the two-step.
Patrick Sandoval $3 (@SF)
Josh Staumont $3 (Other Bids: $1)
Jordan Romano $3 (Other Bids: $1)
Romano finally gave up a run on Saturday, but it is impossible to hold that against him. The Toronto reliever has a stellar 0.90 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 10 innings. While the .105 BABIP isn’t sustainable, Romano’s skills are legit, and he will have deep-mixed value even if he isn’t closing. Anthony Bass remains the closer, but Romano is worth a stash if you have the roster space.
Jake Cronenworth $3
Rio Ruiz $2
John Gant $2
Danny Jansen $2
Nick Markakis $2
Chad Kuhl $2 (MIL)
Chad Green $2
Trevor Williams $1 (CLE)
Adam Duvall $1 (Other Bids: $1)
Jose Iglesias $1
Johan Camargo $1
Cal Quantrill $1
Daniel Bard $1
Derek Dietrich $17 (Other Bids: $6, $1, $1)
Nicky Lopez $16 (Other Bids: $11)
I was slightly surprised to see Lopez in the free-agent pool of an AL-only league, but even though his real-life numbers are better in 2020 (thanks to an improved walk rate), the fantasy stats are barely moving the needle. Lopez has been trying to steal bases but has been caught on all three of his attempts. There’s a fine line between useful grinders like David Fletcher and marginal ones like Lopez, and that line is a good batting average. Lopez needs to do something better to be more than roster filler, even in mono formats.
Gregory Soto $6 (Other Bids: $5, $1, $1)
Like Romano, Soto doesn’t need to be the closer to have deep mixed and AL-only value. Soto throws upper-90s heat with a nasty slider, and that’s more than enough to make him a premier reliever. Joe Jiménez has a 5.63 ERA, but his job is safe. He’d need a blow up or two for Soto to get a crack at the role.
Ryan Borucki $5 (Other Bids: $1)
Borucki has added a couple miles per hour to his fastball as a reliever and has a ludicrous 54 percent strikeout rate. He also has a 19 percent walk rate, which limits his ceiling—both in terms of his rate stats and for any chances to move up in Toronto’s pecking order. If you only care about the strikeouts, Borucki is a solid add. I do worry a little about blow-up potential, though, if he completely loses the zone on any given day.
Brandon Drury $3 (Other Bids: $2, $1)
Drury has a .111/.143/.111 slash line and has done virtually nothing for a Toronto team that has other options. Dante Bichette’s injury could open some playing time at shortstop for Drury, but even with a clean opportunity, this is a questionable bet on a player who has almost never hit in the majors.
Keibert Ruiz $21 (Other Bids: $12, $2)
Luke Weaver $17 (Other Bids: $12, $6, $3, $2) (OAK, @SF)
This bid is mine, and while I don’t feel great about it, my pitching has s**t the bed. I need to go all in on pocket twos and make lousy poker analogies. The difference between a 60-game season and a 162-game season is extremely heightened when it comes to pitching. A bad three-and-a-half-week stretch in a normal year wouldn’t kill you, but it is fatal in this compressed season. Anyway, Weaver has a solid two-start week and a great matchup on paper in San Francisco. He should be used in all weekly formats except shallower mixed.
Lewin Díaz $15 (Other Bids: $12, $11, $6, $3)
Andrew Miller $11 (Other Bids: $9. $7)
Jorge Mateo $11 (Other Bids: $1)
Mateo is expected to log time in a utility role for the Padres, playing in both the infield and outfield. The speed is what makes Mateo enticing. Even though he is viewed as a busted prospect, he is only 25 years old. At the very least, Mateo should get some starts over Jurickson Profar and is worth the gamble in NL-only.
Magneuris Sierra $7 (Other Bids: $6, $3, $2)
Sierra has settled into the good side of a center-field platoon in Miami. The Marlins have an eight-game slate this week and are scheduled to face off against four righties, three southpaws, and a TBD. Sierra’s speed is enticing, and the Marlins have been aggressive on the basepaths, with 19 team steals in their first 15 games. Sierra won’t offer much besides speed, but in NL-only that plays.
Tyler Rogers $7 (Other Bids: $4, $2)
I was a little surprised to get Rogers for “only” $7, but the Giants bullpen isn’t exactly a gold mine of great relievers. Plus, the only thing to which Gabe Kapler seems committed in San Francisco is not committing to traditional reliever roles. Trevor Gott blew two saves in spectacular fashion, and Rogers looks like he’s next in line for saves, assuming Kapler doesn’t just yank a cardboard cutout from the stands to pitch the ninth.
Caleb Ferguson $2 (Other Bids: $1)
Ferguson is unlikely to get saves but is your typically solid middle reliever who should be rostered in NL-only. He has moved off his curve in favor of a slider as a secondary offering and looks even better than he has in the past.
Andrew Knizner $2 (Other Bids: $1)
My $12 bid for Ruiz fell short, so Knizner was my consolation prize. In NL-only, look for free-agent catchers on teams like the Cardinals with multiple doubleheaders on the slate where they will be forced to use two catchers. Knizner is a unicorn in modern baseball: a decent hitting catcher who isn’t good at the defensive part of the job. The problem for fantasy is that Knizner’s power surge in 2019 was a product of the PCL, and his gap power and contact skills won’t be helped by the lively ball. I’m fine with him as a stopgap, but this is mono-league stuff all the way.
Emilio Pagán $2 (Other Bids: $1)
With Kirby Yates on the IL due to bone chips in his elbow, there is a window of opportunity for Pagán to get saves in San Diego. Unfortunately, Pagan stunk up the joint yesterday after putting together a decent run of outings earlier in August. His velocity is down a little bit, and the strikeouts also have dropped off. Drew Pomeranz is the likely favorite for saves, and Pagán will need to pick it up quickly to sniff any sort of opportunity.
Shaun Anderson $2 (@LAA, ARI)
Eddy Alvarez $2 (Other Bids: $1)
See Magneuris Sierra, above. Alvarez isn’t as fast as Sierra, but Isan Díaz’s opt out has given Alvarez an opportunity at the keystone for the Marlins. His .499 OPS means that his opportunity might be short-lived, but in NL-only a $1-2 bid for the steals is an appropriate gamble.
Devin Williams $2 (Other Bids: $1)
Williams never received much notice as a prospect because he was always hurt and control was an issue, but the dude can dial it up to 100 mph at times (he averages 96). He also keeps hitters off balance with a good 10-12 miles of separation on his change. Williams could also benefit from the way that Craig Counsell uses his bullpen. Josh Hader is the closer, but Counsell isn’t afraid to put other relievers into the ninth at times, using Hader for multi-inning outings when needed. I don’t want to oversell Williams, but I like what I’ve seen in an admittedly small sample.
TOUT WARS MIXED DRAFT
Just when it looked like the player pool was tapped out for talent, team managers in Tout Wars Mixed found plenty of gems buried deep. There was the usual mix of pitchers and hitters among the bids this week, but only a few players who drew widespread interest. As usual, there were several closers and closers-in-waiting up for bid, but it was the position players who dominated the numbers this week. Counting contingency bids, nearly 40 players drew bids and a total of 31 were awarded, the highest one-week total to date this season.
Andrew Miller $150 (Other Bids: $91, $11, $6)
It was Miller who received the first save chance following Kwang-hyun Kim‘s move to the starting rotation and the Cardinals’ return to the field. Keep in mind that Giovanny Gallegos was the favorite for save chances until he ended up on the IL and had difficulty returning to the United States from Mexico. Gallegos is back now and pitching well. Over the last two seasons, Miller has pitched a total of 88 2/3 innings with a 4.36 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, and 14 home runs allowed. He has not been the dominant southpaw that we saw from 2013-2017, when he compiled a 1.82 ERA, a 0.85 WHIP, and allowed just 22 home runs over 291 2/3 innings. Keep these facts in mind before you spend significant FAAB on Miller, especially if you have other needs.
Zach Davies $137 (Other Bid: $16) (@TEX, HOU)
Davies posted a career-best 3.55 ERA in 2019 with his combination of limiting hard contact and keeping the ball inside the park. He doesn’t rack up many strikeouts, which limits his fantasy value, but pitching for one of the better teams in baseball and starting half of his games in roomy Petco Park will help keep his rate stats on the low side. That’s enough to make him worthy of a roster spot in NL-only and deeper mixed leagues.
Clint Frazier $123 (Other Bids: $117, $113, $111, $52, $47, $21, $10)
Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge are both sidelined by injury, which opens the playing-time door for Frazier. The 25-year-old outfielder has responded to this opportunity with a .533 batting average, a pair of homers, and eight RBI through four games played. Aaron Boone will make room for Frazier in the lineup if he continues to hit like this, something he has the skill set to do.
Rio Ruiz $113 (Other Bids: $111, $0)
Before you get too excited about Ruiz, keep in mind that he is a career .223/.302/.376 hitter in 671 PA over a combination of three seasons with the Braves and Orioles. He swings and misses a lot, and his contact issues will limit his fantasy value, regardless of what he has done to begin this season. Still, anything can happen in a short season, and, well, let’s not get carried away with that stuff.
Willi Castro $109
Castro batted .301/.366/.467 with 11 homers and 17 steals over 525 PA in Triple-A last year, so he is clearly making good progress for a 23-year-old hitter. He will get some playing time at third base, now that Niko Goodrum will be playing first base for the injured C.J. Cron.
Josh Staumont $89
Staumont has always had great swing-and-miss stuff, but his command issues have led to high walk rates. Trevor Rosenthal still has the inside track for save chances with Scott Barlow handling the eighth inning. However, Staumont has earned manager Mike Matheny’s respect, so don’t be surprised to see him handling higher-leverage situations when the matchups are favorable.
Tony Gonsolin $78 (Other Bids: $47, $11) (SEA)
Gonsolin has thrown 8 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball, allowing just four hits with two walks and nine strikeouts. At the very least, he has earned another start, which is likely come against the Mariners on Tuesday. However, manager Dave Roberts has been non-committal about Gonsolin’s role going forward. Gonsolin could just as easily end up working out of the bullpen, so be careful about how much you spend.
Kevin Kiermaier $71 (Other Bids: $12, $7)
Injuries have interfered with each of Kiermaier’s last two seasons, yet he keeps finding a way to come back and make an impact.
Marwin González $68 (Other Bids: $4)
If González is available on your waiver wire, he is worth adding just for his multi-positional eligibility. The Twins keep finding ways to sneak him into their lineup due to that versatility. González can help your fantasy team in all five offensive categories, despite his non-guaranteed playing time.
Nick Markakis $51 (Other Bids: $2)
Markakis isn’t a fantasy stud in any one category, but he will give you solid contributions across the board. He is especially valuable in OBP leagues like Tout Wars. Markakis has a career .358 OBP and has averaged a .359 OBP over the last five seasons. He won’t hit for a ton of power but provides just enough to make him worthy of a roster spot in any league format.
Zach Eflin $47 (Other Bids: $21, $19) (@BOS, @ATL)
Eflin doesn’t strike out enough batters to be anything more than a streaming option in mixed leagues. Even then, he should only be used in the right matchups. The Red Sox represent a good matchup for just about anyone these days, so tuck Eflin away for that game and others that might be appropriate.
Elieser Hernández $21 (@WAS)
Hernández is another example of a pitcher who can provide some nice value when stacked up against the right team.
Jason Kipnis $6 (Other Bid: $2)
Kipnis is batting .357/.455/.750 after 10 games with the Cubbies. There isn’t anyone else on the Cubs roster who can give them that kind of production at the keystone, so Kipnis could very well hold onto the job. If you can get him this cheap in your league, it might be the best $6 that you’ll spend all season. Don’t expect Kipnis to keep this up, but it is certainly possible that he maintains his average close to .300 with a 10- to 12-home-run seasonal pace and decent counting stats.
Madison Bumgarner $0
The left-hander is currently on the injury list with diminished velocity and a general lack of anything resembling his old repertoire. If you really believe that he will find his lost velocity, go ahead and use up a valuable roster spot. In Tout Wars, you must keep any player you acquire via FAAB active for a full week.
Yan Gomes $0
Daulton Varsho $0
TOUT WARS NL
Keibert Ruiz $417 (Other Bids: $255, $78, $20)
Catching prospects always come with high margins for error, but even by this standard, Ruiz is one of the most polarizing prospects I’ve seen in years. His proponents point to his ability to make contact and how easy he makes the game look behind the plate, while his detractors highlight Ruiz’s poor quality of contact and a rough defensive game. Ruiz will get a short-term opportunity with Will Smith on the IL and should be added in all two-catcher formats. I wouldn’t shell out more than $100-120, but the short season and limited opportunities to grab talent are creating some extremes on some winning bids.
Luis García $217
Madison Bumgarner $135
Lucas Sims $51
Eddy Alvarez $48
Lewin Díaz $45 (Other Bids: $37, $35, $12)
Díaz is an intriguing prospect who needed a full season at Triple-A to put the finishing touches on his game, but since there is no Triple-A in 2020, the Marlins are understandably giving him an opportunity at first base. It might only be a short-term stay, but Díaz has enough pop in his bat to stick around on a thin Miami team. I’d leave Díaz in the free-agent pool in mixed leagues, but in NL-only you need to grab him now.
Tomas Nido $42 (Other Bids: $3)
Wilson Ramos hasn’t been the worst offensive catcher in 2020 (that honor goes to Francisco Mejía and his .331 OPS), but he has struggled at the plate and his defense looks terrible as well. Otherwise, things are going great for the Mets, as per usual! Nido could work his way into some additional playing time if Ramos struggles, but the Mets have a history of sticking with their expensive veterans well past the expiration date.
Daniel Bard $35
Robbie Erlin $25
John Nogowski $18
Erick Fedde $15 (@ATL)
Alex Reyes $12 (Other Bids: $11)
Devin Williams $12
Robert Gsellman $11 (@MIA, NYY)
Yency Almonte $11
Caleb Ferguson $11
Daniel Castano $11 (NYM)
Andrew Knizner $5
David Phelps $5
Kyle Farmer $2
Luis Guillorme $2
TOUT WARS AL
Derek Dietrich $150 (Other Bids: $118, $115, $104, $99, $81, $51, $46)
Dietrich was a popular target in Tout AL, garnering eight bids. My $150 bid won the day. I don’t really need Dietrich but have well over $1000 to spend after reclaiming $190 FAAB on Roberto Osuna. You can’t take your FAAB with you! Tout Wars is also a trading league (hint, hint, HINT). Dietrich profiles well in OBP formats, as he won’t hurt you if he does hit .187 again. The power from 2019 isn’t sustainable, but a 20-home-run seasonal pace from a hitter who has eligibility at two infield positions works for me.
Clarke Schmidt $88 (Other Bids: $57)
Schmidt is a classic stash, and it is likely that he is the first arm that the Yankees call upon if there is an injury to one of their front five. There are red flags because of Schmidt’s injury history (he had Tommy John in 2017 and a forearm strain last year), and even the most optimistic scouts don’t see more than mid-rotation upside. But for 2020 only, stashing a pitcher on a strong real-life team who could grab cheap wins and see some favorable matchups is a decent move.
Cedric Mullins $79
Bubba Starling $74
Joe Panik $59
Asher Wojciechowski $52 (Other Bids: $13) (BOS)
Wojciechowski continues to survive as a back-end starting option for the Orioles. He has moved away from his fastball this year, as he tries to keep hitters off balance rather than blow them away. He isn’t exactly a smoke-and-mirrors arm but will never rack up a ton of strikeouts. Woj gets a tough matchup at home against the Red Sox and is an AL play only this week.
Thairo Estrada $51
Harold Castro $46
Jordan Luplow $46 (Other Bids: $21)
Cleveland’s outfield is a muddled mess, but it is unlikely that Luplow will do anything to differentiate himself from this mediocre crowd. Cleveland will see at least three lefties this week, so Luplow does have an advantage over left-handed hitting Tyler Naquin and Bradley Zimmer. He is OK as a one-week matchup play.
Jonathan Araúz $35 (Other Bids: $32, $7)
A Rule 5 selection by the Red Sox in December, Araúz has worked his way into semi-regular at-bats. He was viewed as more of a long-term stash than someone who could earn serious playing time because his bat was still developing. While the batting average has been strong, Araúz has mostly been a singles hitter. This is a deep-league profile and will only work if Araúz is playing full time.
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